-says CHRDI Chief Executive
July 20, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Chief Executive of Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has stated that gender inequality remains a significant challenge to socio-economic and political growth in Sierra Leone.
Abdul M. Fatoma said the government should recognise that gender equality was not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for development, prosperity and peace in the country.
He said gender discrimination in the country has created wide gender gaps with very devastating socio-economic and health consequences, adding that women have been marginalised, unfairly compensated and deprived.
“Rape and sexual harassment are common and perpetrators escape justice. Due to impunity and lack of gender equality, women and girls have their rights and dignity routinely violated,” he said.
He said his organisation’s attention has been drawn to the situation of women who are deprived of access to land, productive, social and other resources, as well as lack of participation in social and political decisions, which obstruct their empowerment.
Mr. Fatoma urged the government to domesticate and implement all human rights treaties they have signed, especially the Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW) and the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (AU Women Protocol).
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He noted that by domesticating these two protocols and other related international instruments, it would ensure that women enjoy their human rights on the basis of equality with men, in accordance with Section 170- (2) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, which says: “The common law of Sierra Leone shall comprise the rules of law generally known as the common Law, the rules of law generally known as the doctrines of equity, and the rules of customary law including those determined by the Superior Court of Judicature.”
The CHRDI Chief Executive also appealed to the government and Members of Parliament to pursue and oversee the ratification of the Gender Equality Bill.
“In a time when no one country has attained gender equality, Sierra Leone could make a strong and precedential pledge to parity, as this action has the potential to be the country’s first significant step in recent years. This will help the government to take the lead in combating gender inequality, whilst empowering women and promoting their rights in all constructs,” he stated.